This is a guest post from Amy at Vacation Thrills (and Money 4 This, Not 4 That) where she is always on the lookout for a great vacation, whether far away or close to hone. She looks for every affordable way to make it happen, then shares it with you. Vacation Thrills will take you to the top of some of the highest coasters and as low as the sunny beaches, affordably, not missing anything along the way. What’s your vacation thrill?
This subject really excites me because I love taking vacations I never thought possible or just doing anything when you thought you had no money. There is a vacation for you no matter how big or small.
Let’s divide these up into categories, because as your family changes, so does what you can and should try and do.
One of the most affordable things you can do with younger kids is camp. They love it, it’s affordable, and it’s a completely bonding time with your family. Getting the stuff ends up being the biggest expense, but once you have that in place you are ready to go again and again. This can last for years as the kids are younger and even as they get older they love to bring along friends.
Ok, so camping isn’t for you. Well then, let’s look at another idea.
Yep, it can be done affordably. Let me give you my first tip here. Younger kids can miss school and they will be alright. We took advantage of the time our kids were younger and taking them out of school to do a vacation during the slow seasons.
A few years back we took our kids to Disneyland in early May. Everyone was still in school, it was just after the big Spring Break rush and right before the big summer rush. Prices were killer as well. We went through Alaska Airlines, and we booked the air, hotel, shuttles (so we didn’t get a car) and hopper passes for 5 days. We got all that for $1200.
We took snacks to eat in the park, so when it was time to eat a meal we didn’t need something huge. Then we ate dinner out of the park. Not only that, but the park was pretty empty and we could ride any ride we wanted with very little wait.
This is when things start to get tougher. You have schedules that need to be kept during school and lots of activities in the summer. Being that we are a roller coaster family and still wanted to do these kinds of vacations we got creative.
We started watching the school calendars of places we were going to. If they were in school and we had time off, we went. Again, we chose off season, so airfare was reasonable and we got great deals on hotel because they needed to fill them. Our latest trip was booked through Hotwire, which gave us a killer deal. (Check out how to find out what hotel you are booking through Hotwire) So not only were we getting a great deal, but the park again was pretty empty.
We also took a super affordable vacation to Mexico over Christmas a two years ago. The key here was choosing a less desirable location. Even though the location we chose, Mazatlan, was a place our friends would go to over and over, it was by far cheaper than the others. As a matter of fact my daughter found this great deal.(She was 14 at the time and determined to hit the sun for Christmas).
She ended up getting us an all inclusive for 7 nights 8 days for $2500. We had miles so airfare was free and we only left the place a few times, so out of pocket while we were there was right around $200. The place was great, but not over the top amazing, we shared a room with a cot. We hung out at the beach or one of the 3 pools every day, and we were perfectly happy.
Those with No Kids – being Newly Married, Empty Nesters or our Singles
This is what I am super excited about. The big thing right now is house swapping. There are all kinds of sites that help facilitate this. The key is to have a house in an ideal location. (We may have to move once the kids are gone.) You set your house up very simple and when you are ready to go to Paris for a month, you find someone in Paris that wants to come to the states for a month. One of the biggest expenses when you travel is Hotel, after airfare of course. You have now taken that expense out of the equation.
Not ready to have someone come live in your house? Another idea that is cheaper than a hotel is renting a house for a whole month. This also cuts down on food as you can purchase things to make so you aren’t eating out all month long. Plus the rental for a month is a lot less than renting a hotel for 30 nights.
My last tip, and this goes for any and all age groups. Be willing to look in your backyard for vacation destinations. So often we think we need to get on a plane. My husband and I recently went an hour away and had an amazing time in a town we had only driven through. Our time was relaxing, enjoyable and we felt like we were somewhere else. No airfare, very little gas and no lost time traveling.
This is just a sampling of ideas. It’s possible to get away. It’s also possible to take the vacation you never thought you could.
This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.